Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly. (James 5: 17)
Thank God Elijah was “just like us”! He sat under a tree, complained to God, and expressed his unbelief— just as we have often done. Yet this was not the case at all when he was truly in touch with God. “Elijah was a man just like us,” yet “he prayed earnestly.” The literal meaning of this in the Greek is magnificent: instead of saying, “earnestly,” it says, “He prayed in prayer.” In other words, “He kept on praying.” The lesson here is that you must keep praying.
Climb to the top of Mount Carmel and see that great story of faith and sight. After Elijah had called down fire from heaven to defeat the prophets of Baal, rain was needed for God’s prophecy to be fulfilled. And the man who could command fire from heaven could bring rain using the same methods. We are told, “Elijah . . . bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees” (1 Kings 18: 42), shutting out all sights and sounds. He put himself in a position, beneath his robe, to neither see nor hear what was happening.
Elijah then said to his servant, “Go and look toward the sea” (1 Kings 18: 43). Upon returning, the servant replied, “There is nothing there.” How brief his response must have seemed! “Nothing!” Can you imagine what we would do under the same circumstances? We would say, “Just as I expected!” and then would stop praying. But did Elijah give up? No. In fact, six times he told his servant, “Go back.” Each time the servant returned saying, “Nothing!”
Yet “the seventh time the servant reported, ‘A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea’ ” (1 Kings 18: 44). What a fitting description, for a man’s hand had been raised in prayer to God before the rains came. And the rains came so fast and furiously that Elijah warned Ahab to “go down before the rain stops you.”
This is a story of faith and sight— faith cutting itself off from everything except God, with sight that looks and yet sees nothing. Yes, in spite of utterly hopeless reports received from sight, this is a story of faith that continues “praying in prayer.”
Do you know how to pray in that way— how to prevail in prayer? Let your sight bring you reports as discouraging as possible, but pay no attention to them. Our heavenly Father lives, and even the delays of answers to our prayers are part of His goodness.
~Arthur Tappan Pierson
Each of three young boys once gave a definition of faith that illustrates the important aspect of tenacity. The first boy defined faith as “taking hold of Christ,” the second as “keeping our hold on Him,” and the third as “not letting go of Him.”
Cowman, L. B. E.; Reimann, Jim (2008-09-09). Streams in the Desert: 366 Daily Devotional Readings (pp. 175-176). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.